The report looks at the response of Canadian firms to Rana Plaza

The report looks at the response of Canadian firms to Rana Plaza

A new report looking at the response of Canadian businesses to the Rana Plaza disaster suggests internal supplier auditing programmes are still not doing enough to address the risks.

Two years after the devastating building collapse in Bangladesh, the Shareholder Association for Research & Education (SHARE) analysed the response to the disaster by seven publicly traded apparel companies: Canadian Tire, Gildan Activewear, HBC, Loblaw, Lululemon, Reitmans and Sears Canada.

Among the highlights of "What have Canadian publicly-traded apparel companies done since Rana Plaza?", SHARE highlights Joe Fresh owner Loblaw as the first Canadian signatory of the Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.

It added that Loblaw had updated its supplier code of conduct to recognise workers’ rights to freedom of association, had added local staff to assist with compliance, and had donated nearly US$3.4m to the Rana Plaza Trust Fund – the only Canadian company to do so.

By contrast, Lululemon sources from two factories in the country, but has not joined either the Accord or Alliance initiatives, insisting that its Vendor Code of Conduct and factory inspections address safety issues.

And Reitmans, which has also failed to join either initiative, has a supplier code of conduct on its website which does not, said SHARE, address building safety.

Canadian Tire and HBC are both Alliance members, while Gildan owns and sources exclusively from one factory, which it says was renovated in 2010 and is inspected annually.

Finally, Sears Canada is an Alliance member through its US parent, which has been linked to factories which suffered fatal fires, such as Tazreen in November 2012 – but Sears says production at the factory was unauthorised and is yet to compensate victims.

"Given that the risk of large-scale factory disasters in Bangladesh was well-known but not addressed by standard company supplier audits prior to Rana Plaza, we’re sceptical about companies that still claim their internal supplier auditing programmes are enough to address these risks," just-style was told.